Amir Khan keeps his career alive with a WBC International title win over substitute opponent Billy Dib, while there are mixed fortunes for the Brits on the undercard
Amidst a motley crew of boxing’s lost souls and unfashionable operators, all shipped off to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for one of the strangest events in recent memory, former unified world champion and welterweight Amir Khan kept his career alive with a one-sided stoppage over a lightweight (at best) in Australia’s Billy Dib, substituting for original opponent Neeraj Goyat, at the King Abdullah Sports City.
Dib had last competed in April at lightweight, in a keep-busy fight which lasted less than a round. Khan, a faded force at 32 but still a world-level welterweight, has lost in the same month to pound-for-pound contender Terence Crawford. The Goyat fixture appeared a mismatch and, while Dib was undoubtedly a more talented boxer than the Indian former MMA fighter, he was naturally the far smaller man and not the same man who reigned as IBF featherweight champion from 2011, when Bolton’s Khan was also in his pomp as a unified ruler at 140lbs.
Khan started fast, as is his wont, working well off the jab and backing Dib to the ropes before launching fast flurries. The Aussie, brave but outgunned, was dropped early in round two from a counter left hook and was hurt again as the third began. Dib used to entire ring to stay away and held when it was judicious to do so, but was being hurt to head and body most of the time Khan landed. A one-two rocked Dib in the fourth, he sought refuge against the strands but Khan opened up. Dib attempted to fight back but was caught downstairs then up, dropped and saw the towel sail in from his corner.
Hughie Fury, in his second fight since dropping a wide decision to Kubrat Puelv in an IBF final eliminator in Bulgaria, put a decent name on his ledger but gained little else as he defeated the ghost of one-time WBC heavyweight champion Sam Peter, who has seen much better days.
Peter (aged 38) had gone 2-1 against average opposition since returning from an extended hiatus in February, while Fury was only out seven weeks ago. It was a contest in which 24-year-old Fury held every conceivable advantage except experience. That said, the flabby Nigerian still advanced, moved his head and winged big hooks towards Fury, who was content to pick his adversary off from the perimeter. The slick, rangy Mancunian generally stayed a step ahead, scoring points with his long jab, thrown from waist height, but there was rarely any urgency in his performance. Peter was never fast on his feet but by round three he was positively snail-like and lost a point for hitting on the break in the next. Fury gradually took a few more chances but this was a tedious affair as Peter followed in straight lines and became increasingly frustrated, committing further infractions; by the halfway point of this 12-rounder he looked exhausted and it came as no surprise when he withdrew midway through round seven with a purported left shoulder injury.
If often-obnoxious Acton bantamweight Prince Patel had claimed the IBO’s lightly regarded version of the world title, previously vacant, he could now be even more intolerable. So perhaps we should all be grateful to once-beaten Michell Banquez of Venezuela, who cruised to a unanimous decision over 12 rounds. Scores were 118-110 and 119-109 (twice). Patel’s world tour, during which he had vanquished opponents in six different countries, albeit none of note and only nine of 19 with winning records, proved to be nothing more than a confidence-building exercise and was no use on this night as his unbeaten record was turned to dust.
Patel began patiently, while busy Banquez focused on his body, the Londoner’s head proving a protected and elusive target early on. It appeared the Venezuelan had set off too quickly, given the match was set for 12 rounds and he was throwing a lot of leather for limited returns. But the rangy fighter maintained the pace throughout the middle rounds and to greater success. Patel came forward persistently but often smothered his own work and, while not in any great danger, his foot speed and output were generally poor. Banquez inevitably slowed from round eight, but still used lateral movement to prevent Patel getting set to throw his more meaty shots. The mobility and ring generalship of Banquez were impressive and he was a clear victor. At 26, Patel showed he can complete 12 rounds (had only been eight previously) and can yet rebuild.
Michael Hennessy Jr, son of UK promoter Mick Hennessy, was held to a majority draw in his second pro fight, by Afghani debutant Farhad Hazratzada.